In a physical game at Kay Yeager Coliseum Saturday night the Wichita Falls Wildcats snapped a three game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the Fresno Monsters. The win splits the two game weekend series between the two teams.
Mikhail Sentyurin's back-to-back goals in the early minutes of the third period would provide the difference in the game. Sentyurin had a good series against the Monsters, scoring three of the Wildcats six total goals in the two games.
The Monsters took the early lead in the contest on Michael Coleman's third goal of the season at the 10:14 mark of the first period. Jordan Lovick would get the assist.
In a contradiction of the previous night's phantom goal credited to the Monsters, most of the 1,422 fans in attendance and the red light behind the net thought Drew Allen tied the game a few minutes later. It appeared Allen's shot found the back of the net, but after a quick conference officials determined the puck bounced off the post and away from the goal.
The tie game would not come until the 18:56 mark of the first period when Dakota Klecha's shot bounced off Fresno goalie Luis Puig and landed on the ice in front of the Wildcats Mac Olson as if served on a silver platter. Olson's 18th goal of the season knotted the game 1-1 going into the first intermission.
Wayne Hyland would recapture the lead for Fresno in the second with his second goal of the series and seventh of the season, an unassisted effort 4:05 into the period.
The Monsters second lead of the game would last about four minutes, ending with Jason McAloon's shorthanded goal at the 8:01 mark with an assist from Patrick Yudez to tie the game 2-2.
The Wildcats would take their first lead of the game with 7:35 left in the second period when Allen finally got the goal it appeared he had earlier in the game, coming with assists from Klecha and Olson. The Colorado native's 11th goal of the season gave Wichita Falls a 3-2 lead and momentum going into the final period.
Sentyurin would seal the victory in the third period with two goals in just over three minutes. The first came at the 1:22 mark with assists from Allen and Ryan Frost. The second came on a powerplay 3:06 into the period, with Frost again picking up an assist. Chris Leone would also record an assist on the goal.
A few fireworks followed Sentyurin's second goal when fists flew between Klecha and Coleman at center ice. Both players were given five minute majors for the fight.
With a two man advantage on a powerplay, T.J. Powers would tack on the final goal of the night with about five and half minutes remaining in the game. Jeffery Pauluk would get an assist on the goal.
Wildcats goalie Tyler Green got the win, recording 26 saves in the game and displaying some outstanding glove work.
Puig made 25 saves for Fresno with the loss.
Wichita Falls improves to 17-15-3 with the win, putting a little more distance between them and the fifth place Corpus Christi Ice Rays in the NAHL South division.
Fresno falls to 13-18-3, but keeps a three point edge for fifth place in the NAHL West division thanks to a 6-0 Dawson Creek loss to Wenatchee.
Wichita Falls begins a tough four game stretch on the road with their next game on January 14 in Frisco against the Texas Tornado. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
In the NAHL South:
With Texas idle this week, the Topeka RoadRunners and Amarillo Bulls looked to distance themselves from the Tornado at the top of the division. Both teams did just that.
Topeka completed a three game sweep of the IceRays in Corpus Christi with a 9-4 victory on Saturday. The RoadRunners currently sit on top of the division with a 23-8-2 record and 48 points. Corpus Christi falls to 13-20-2 and remains in fifth place.
Amarillo kept pace with the RoadRunners with a 7-3 win over New Mexico Saturday night. The Bulls and Mustangs split the two game series in New Mexico, giving the Bulls a record of 22-6-3 and keeping them one point behind Topeka. The Mustangs come away with a 9-21-3 record and remain in last place.
Current NAHL South standings:
- Topeka RoadRunners, 23-8-2 (48 points)
- Amarillo Bulls, 22-6-3 (47 points)
- Texas Tornado, 20-7-5 (45 points)
- Wichita Falls Wildcats, 17-15-3 (37 points)
- Corpus Christi IceRays, 13-20-2 (28 points)
- New Mexico Mustangs, 9-21-3 (21 points)
- Points: Mac Olson and Ryan Frost (36)
- Goals: Mac Olson (18)
- Assists: Ryan Frost (28)
- Wins: Tyler Green (10)
- Shutouts: Eric Garavaglia (2)
- Saves: Tyler Green (598)